How To Make It Personal

A Conversation with Deliberate Discomfort Author & Mission 6 Zero CEO, Jason Van Camp

By Barry Engelhardt

Deliberate Discomfort author, Jason Van Camp, has become a subject-matter-expert on the power of growth through discomfort.  A college athlete who played linebacker at WestPoint, Van Camp then went on to serve in the Army for 14 years, the majority of which spent as a Green Beret and Special Operations Commander.  Since retiring from the military, he has founded a consulting company and a non-profit—Mission Six Zero & Warrior Rising—as well as authored a book.  What aligns the many chapters of Van Camp’s life is a growth mindset that not only accepts but embraces adversity & discomfort.  Van Camp recently wrote Deliberate Discomfort: How U.S. Special Operations Forces Overcome Fear and Dare to Win by Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, where he shares the transformative power of pushing oneself past their current abilities. 

If one were to describe Van Camp, Deliberate Discomfort acts as an intersection of sorts; equal parts military experience and business application.  The book is an easy to read narrative told through the vantage of multiple elite warriors—including two Purple Heart recipients—responsible for assisting Van Camp’s development as a young leader.  It is both entertaining and dense with valuable information on leadership & self-development.  Each chapter chronicles an exceptional experience and concludes with research and practical application. 

‘Most people will give you the inspirational, fire you up-level advise.  But they don’t answer the how.  There is no follow up.  That’s why I bought scientists in to say this is what the veteran did, this is the scientific theory behind it and this is how you can do it in your life,’ comments Van Camp.

He adds that ‘We don’t just tell you war stories.  We tell you a story with experiences, we tell you how you can do it and then we tell how our clients have done it using our training.’

But while Deliberate Discomfort’s format is similar to prior special operator turned business consultant books, Van Camp’s overall message reads differently, focusing not only on heroics but also vulnerability.  While many Special Operators tell a more black-and-white, Superman-esque version of reality, Deliberate Discomfort shows valor through a bit more complex lens that allows a full spectrum of colors to blend into the frame.

When discussing what our world needs, both in general and especially in a current, COVID-19 filled climate, Van Camp’s answer is simple – focus on what’s unique and personal to each individual.    

‘Keep it personal.  People are vulnerable right now and those that are going to come out of this are the ones that are working hard right now, embracing discomfort, unafraid of the unknown, and willing to dig,’ stated Van Camp. 

One example that Van Camp provided is getting up early to work out.  While he acknowledged that for him, waking up before dawn is easy, even nostalgic, he added that it’s not for everyone and that each individual needs to find their own success.  For Van Camp, the framework that links everything together is a focus on growth.

‘There are a lot of people that are surface level.  A lot of things aren’t for everybody.  Something that’s very easy for one person is very difficult for others.  Find the hard thing for you and do it.  If it’s not hard for you, don’t do it.  Push yourself, your comfort zone; push yourself to gain more experiences.  Find out what it is for you.  Make it personal.  Find what the difficulty is for you and do that.’

Van Camp believes in a growth mindset and can rattle off a laundry list of challenges he’s faced, stating that, ‘You voluntarily choose to do or abstain from things that are hard for you.  Those are the fruits & catalyst of a happy life.’

Barry Engelhardt is the Program Manager for OSD’s Boots to Books Program and recently retired from the Illinois Army National Guard after twenty years in combat arms.  He obtained his MBA from SIU-Carbondale and is currently trying to figure out what the hell the ‘new normal’ is with his wife and two young boys in St. Louis, MO.  He is the HR Manager for Store Supply Warehouse. 

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